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How Much Are RBC Avion Points Worth?

One RBC Avion point is worth $0.0143 on average. However, redemption value varies depending on your destination or starting point. As a result, some locations are much more lucrative than others to fly to. 

 

Before we start breaking down how much the points are worth, let’s take a look to see if they’re any good for booking flights.

Booking

Avion’s biggest draw is that customers can book any flight on any airline at any time, even during peak season. They bring attention to that fact on their website as well.

That’s certainly a nice change of pace from some other rewards programs, like Aeroplan. Being able to choose literally any flight to pay with points is a huge plus and makes it really easy to redeem the points. Remember, if you can’t redeem your points for a flight you want, the value of the points is $0.

There’s also a fixed-rate points program with which you can redeem points as a statement credit after a purchase – this includes taxes and fees paid after redeeming a flight. The rate for this redemption is 1 point : 1 cent, making it far less lucrative than the travel options but a nice bonus nonetheless.

Flexibility

RBC Avion points can be transferred to WestJet Dollars at a rate of 100 RBC Avion Points : 1 WestJet Dollar. As the name implies, 1 WestJet Dollar has a value of $1, so it can be advantageous to transfer the points over if you plan on flying with WestJet. Remember that WestJet Dollars are locked into WestJet flights.

Expiration

Points don’t expire so long as you hold the card. Since all three Avion cards have annual fees, that effectively means it costs $120/year to maintain your Avion account.

Earning Potential

With the RBC Avion Visa Infinite you earn points at a rate of $1:1 point. That ratio jumps to $1:1.25 points when you make travel purchases, such as flights or accommodations.

The lack of bonus categories except in travel makes it a bit harder to collect points. If you’re a frequent traveler you can get a nice boost, but if you only travel when you have enough points to redeem, you’ll have to wait a little longer.

 

Getting Points

With many credit card rewards programs, there are different tiers of cards that offer different amounts of points per dollar spent. Avion is no exception, although it does lack a no-annual fee option, which many other rewards programs have.

You only have two options when choosing to go with Avion: the RBC Avion Visa Infinite and the RBC Avion Visa Infinite Privilege.

 

Visa Infinite

Visa Infinite Privilege

Points per dollar

1

1.25

Points per travel dollar

1.25

1.25

Sign up bonus

15,000

25,000

Annual fee

$120

$399

 

As you can see there’s a 25% boost in point collection when you go with the Visa Infinite Privilege, but at an additional cost of $279/year. Oh, and you’ll need an income of $200,000 to get approved for the Privilege card.

For our calculations we’ll stick with the normal Visa Infinite Avion. Normally when we do these analyses we have a breakdown of spending across multiple categories, but since there’s only travel and not-travel, it makes it pretty easy. Here’s the spending breakdown we used:

 

Spending per Month

Travel spending

$300

Non-travel spending

$1,200

Total spending

$1,500

 

Flight Zones

The Avion program divides Canada into Eastern Canada and Western Canada, which is important for flights to Hawaii, Alaska, Central America, and the Carribean. For overseas flights, it doesn’t matter whether you’re in Eastern or Western Canada, but you must travel out of a major gateway.

Note: RBC doesn’t clarify what a “major gateway” is, but airports like Pearson or Vancouver International are surely considered major gateways. If you require additional transport to get to a major gateway, the wording implies you must pay for that on your own. As such, I won’t include those additional costs when calculating the dollar value of RBC Avion points.

 

 

Destination

Points Required

Maximum ticket price

Next province or state over

15,000

$350

Anywhere in Canada or U.S except Hawaii and Alaska

35,000

$750

Western Canada to Mexico, Hawaii, or Alaska

 

Eastern Canada to Bermuda, Central America, or the Caribbean

45,000

$900

Western Canada to Bermuda, Central America, or the Caribbean

 

Eastern Canada to Mexico, Hawaii, or Alaska

55,000

$1100

From a “major gateway” in Canada/U.S. to Europe

65,000

$1300

From a “major gateway” in Canada/U.S. to Asia, Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific, Middle East, Africa, South America

100,000

$2000

 

 

The Method

Because the dollar amount of rewards varies greatly depending on when you redeem, I’ll be using an average of the high and low prices throughout the year. You can use more Avion points to pay for taxes and fees at a rate of CAD$1 = 100 points, but that isn’t factored into the calculations.

The Real Cashback column is calculated by seeing how much you would have spent on the annual fee before you had enough points to redeem a flight. Since Avion has no free option, you’ll have to pay the fee.

I consider the annual fee as a prepayment to your ticket. You got a travel card for travelling, right? It only makes sense that you factor in the cost of the card into your calculations to see if it’s really a worthwhile investment.

 

The Real Cash Back of the Avion Program

Destination

Average Price

Point Price

Months of spending needed

Real Cashback

Winnipeg

$392.00

15,000

10

1.95%

Montreal

$302.25

15,000

10

1.35%

Vancouver

$625.00

35,000

23

1.13%

Poland

$1,109.50

65,000

42

1.06%

Australia

$1,656.25

100,000

64

1.02%

Slovenia

$1,062.50

65,000

42

0.99%

Tokyo

$1,593.25

100,000

64

0.95%

London

$994.25

65,000

42

0.88%

Dubai

$1,353.00

100,000

64

0.71%

Cambodia

$1,346.00

100,000

64

0.71%

California

$460.75

35,000

23

0.66%

Chile

$1,282.75

100,000

64

0.64%

Florida

$442.00

35,000

23

0.61%

Delhi

$1,222.25

100,000

64

0.58%

Aruba

$524.00

45,000

29

0.52%

Hawaii

$635.50

55,000

35

0.52%

Paris

$692.25

65,000

42

0.42%

Mexico

$443.50

55,000

35

0.17%

Colombia

$650.75

100,000

64

0.01%

 

Why is the value-per-point higher than the real cash back?

This is entirely due to the annual fee calculation. If we take a look at the cashback value if we were to ignore the annual fee, this is what it would look like:

Destination

Effective Cashback

Winnipeg

2.61%

Montreal

2.02%

Vancouver

1.79%

Poland

1.71%

Australia

1.66%

Slovenia

1.63%

Tokyo

1.59%

London

1.53%

Dubai

1.35%

Cambodia

1.35%

California

1.32%

Chile

1.28%

Florida

1.26%

Delhi

1.22%

Aruba

1.16%

Hawaii

1.16%

Paris

1.07%

Mexico

0.81%

Colombia

0.65%

 

Some people like to know how much a point is worth, but I prefer to think of it as “What is my return on investment?” Clearly, the longer it takes you to collect points, the less valuable each point is – you paid more to get the same amount.

Keep in mind too that the more you spend per month, the more points you collect AND the more effective those points are. When you spend more money per month, you collect points more quickly which lets you shave off a month or three from your annual fee calculation.

If you’re trying to maximize your credit card rewards (and even if you’re not) I cannot stress enough the importance

 

Best Value Destinations for Points

There is a maximum price for each tier, so just like the Price is Right, you want to  you want to be as close as possible to that limit without going over to maximize your points value. If you go over that limit, you have to pay the difference. That can really eat into your effective rewards value.

The best value is Toronto to Winnipeg, but even that only comes in at just under 2% cash back.

Vancouver to Toronto and Toronto to Vancouver are also great ways to spend your Avion points.

Worst Value Destinations for Points

The number 1 worst value for points is Toronto to Bogota, Colombia, at just 0.65%.

Flights to South America are relatively cheap, especially compared to some Asian or European destinations, but often cost the most in any rewards program. Toronto to Mexico is right behind at just 0.81%.

When you’re using your Avion points, maximize your rewards by only booking destinations that will give you the most bang for your buck. By paying cash for a trip from Toronto to Honolulu, you can save even more on a trip from Toronto to Sydney!

 

 

 


Chris Chris 01/26/2019
Canadian personal finance buff and all-around writing enthusiast, Chris loves breaking down complicated money ideas to show that they're really not so complex. 
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